Thursday, March 6, 2008

Did This Guy Kill the Novel?

A fascinating article over at Salon by Stephen Marche says "Alain Robbe-Grillet turned the masses against inventive fiction. Now that he's dead, will experimental writing make a comeback?" Interesting.
Here's a highlight:

"The relief I felt when I heard about Robbe-Grillet's death was also partly hope. Now we can go on, I was thinking. ...The two strands of postwar literary fiction, the ultraradical and the willfully archaic, are both antithetical to the spirit of the novel itself, which is polyglot and unpredictable. Novels are supposed to be messy. They are written to express ideals and to make money; they steal from everything and everyone, high, middle and low, belonging to everyone and no one in the same moment. They don't fit anyone's conception. That's why we love them."

I hope everyone in publishing reads this, especially the novels-are-supposed-to-be-a-messy-business part, because it surely describes the novel I just handed over to my agent: polyglot and unpredictable indeed.


bookfraud said...

i don't think experimental writing (in english) ever went away; it's just that the mainstream public isn't reading them anymore.

novels are meant to be messy and polyglot, as you say. otherwise, they'd be a short story. i do find it troubling when critics are always trying to define the novel as one thing or another, a la james wood et. al. remember tom wolfe's bizzare indictment of the modern novel in harper's that they don't have enough reportage? as if there's only room for one type of novel in this world.

Lobster Face said...

awww, poor Robbe-Grillet :(